Ah the torture that is covering long distance running during winter season. An envy fueling journey of scrolling through socials from the furthest south where pacific trails are bathing in hot sun and runners are swimming in sweat (the kind not caused by too many layers of Merino but actual heat). This week my main tormentor was the sand sprinkled feed of the Anton Corbijn of the ultra world; Ian Coreless who was out on location for the 15th edition of;
THE COASTAL CHALLENGE COSTA RICA
TCC is a six day stage race with diverse courses varying from fast packed 13 milers on the beach to 50 k of extended technical climbs through jungle. The only constant is that of high humidity and this year daily course record obliteration. The latter feature might have been stimulated byte the race organisers introduction of a 250 $ reward for every broken stage record and an extra 2500 for an OA male or female course record.
As I hit the final space bar for last weeks round up the runners had just completed their third day and it was already becoming clear that this was to be the year of the lahydees. Multiple Transvulcania champion and Emelie Forsberg's running buddy Ida Nilsson (I: @idanilssi ) started off with a 'casual' outright win on the first day and as if that was not enough she also smashed Anna Frosts stage record with over 30 minutes … Factor in that this was a speedy short day and you get an idea of the level of Nilssons performance. Twenty minutes behind Ida on 4th OA was Holly Page (I @Hollyapage) closely followed by last years TCC champion Ragna Debats (I: @ragnadebats) in third.
Nilsson continued to dominate on the slightly steeper course of day 2 and broke another stage record with a finish time of 4:08:46 (5th OA). This time the previous record holder was Debats who came in as second lady behind Ida in 4:19:13 eight minutes ahead of Page in third.
The more technical course of day three led to a close battle between the three at the top. Ida and Ragna took turns running up front and it was only during a flat beach section towards the end that Nilsson managed to open up a gap to the other two. Once Ida hit the sand and her speediest gear she caught up with and passed all the men bar one and flew into the finish as second OA and with another course record breaking time of 5:20:27. Debats and Page were not far behind and came in as 3rd and 5th OA with a mere 90 seconds between them.
Day 4 starts with a 1000 m clim over 6 miles, not a gentle awakening for tired limbs and the legs of Ragna Debats were not feeling it. Holly and Ida however did not show any signs of fatigue and together they kept the pace punchy at the front of the race before Page decided that she quiet fancied breaking a course record too and pulled away from the field. She finished third OA in 4:25, three minutes ahead of Ida Nilsson. Third was, yes you guessed it right, Ragna in 4:55.
Day 5 has the longest course of the week and you'd be forgiven for thinking that this would slow the pace down BUT with a big portion of the 49 kilometres running over wide gravel roads and with some seriously speedy runners in the field the result was the opposite. With the underfoot in her favour Ida Nilsson had another belter of a day. She ran in the mens chasing group for a large part of the race before pulling away over the last 6 miles to take another outright win and of course obliterate the previous stage record, this time with an unfathomable 45 minutes. Behind her Ragna Debats took a wrong turn and lost a chunk of time but still managed to finish third behind Holly Page.
The 6th and final day has a staggered start for the top 6 runners, this meant that Ragna set off on the 22 k course with a 2 minute lead on Holly who in her turn had 12 minutes down to Ida. As if the rest of the week had just been an extended warm up session Holly Page dominated the last day of running in Costa Rica. She overtook Debats in the early miles and comfortably held off the rest of the top 5 to be not only the first runner to cross the finish line in Drake Bay but she did so in a stage course record breaking time of 2:07. That was not enough to beat Ida Nilsson in the Overall rankings though. After 6 days of incredible running she won the women's race and took second OA with the combined time of 23:36:06, Page was second in 24:50:38 and Debats third in 26:16:06.
1. Ida Nilsson 23:36:03 (2nd OA)
2. Holly Page 24:50:38 (4th OA)
3. Ragna Debats 26:16:06 (6th OA)
(Full results here: https://www.webscorer.com/seriesresult?seriesid=166686)
Ida is usually spending her Winters ski touring for the Swedish national team but has decided to dedicate a bit more time for running this year. After last weeks performance in Costa Rica it will be interesting to see how the rest of her year unfolds and what effect that shift in her training has had! So far it looks like a very good move. She was not the only one showing signs of having nailed early season training last week though ...
BLACK CANYON 100, 100 k / 1580 m
The 2016 WS100 champion Kaci Lickteig (I@ultrarunnerkc) spent most of 2018 in the shadow of her pelvic stress fracture, she made a return late in the season and placed top ten and highest placed American at UTMB as well as going back to win the race where she sustained her injury last year. She also knocked out a 2:06:13 half marathon time on the road! (insert Edvard Munch face smiley here). Being sidelined during the early season meant missing out on Western States so it was a Kaci determined to get her hands on a Golden Ticket who lined up for Black Canyon 100 this weekend. She was not the only one with the ambition to snatch a bib for WS100, after spending the first half of 2018 travelling the world (hear more in this episode of Billy Yangs podcast, https://billyyangpodcast.libsyn.com/yiou-wang-byp-022) YiOu Wang (@ywangruns) injured her ankle whilst out in the Dolomites for Lavaredo and got to watch the rest of the season unfold from the rehab bench. Just like Kaci YiOu has a history of fast marathon times (including an Olympic qualifier) and it's not surprising that they both targeted the flat and runnable course of BC100 for their golden ticket hunt. Kaci Lickteig took control of the lead from the gun and even though YiOu was breathing down her neck at times she gradually pulled away and won the women’s race in a course record breaking 8:40 eight minutes ahead of Wang who also ran under the previous fastest time recorded by Alisa Macdonald in 2018. The two pre-race favourites had quiet a gap down to Mallory Richard who crossed the finish line as third woman in 9:33:08.
1. Kaci Lickteig 8:38:38
2. YiOu Wang 8:48:26
3. Mallory Richard9:33:08
I know it doesn't need more hype but that race in June you guys …..
It's finally time for some international trail action on European soil! The 128 k course at Transgrancanaria is the third race in this years UTWT series and as mentioned above is the first big one in the European race calendar. Since 2018 the long course runs on a slightly altered route which even though it's lost a bit of brutality is still a very gnarly one. It's a race where we usually see young and eager runners burst out of the starting pen in Las Palmas to quickly hit the wall of steep rocky ascents and be overtaken by the veterans in the game. It has also become something of a tradition for Caroline Chaverot to drop out of this race and declare it the end of her running career only to be back a few months later winning Hardrock … Fingers crossed that we get to see her reach the finish line this year! Even though I'd love to see Chaverot back on the top of the podium i think she will struggle to beat last years CCC champion Miao Yao. Yao is the strongest female runner to come out of the ever-growing chinese trail camp and having had the advantage of dry trails close to home i think she will run home another prestigious trophy at Gran Canaria this weekend. I'm also interested to see how last years Bear 100 winner and WS100 runner up Kaytlyn Gerbin will fare on the technical terrain. She is fast no doubt about that but will she be able to reign herself back early in the race to pull through I'm not sure. Other possible podium contenders are the winner of the 2017 edition Azara Garcia and Magdalena Laczak.
Almost equal to TGC in its brutality but a bit less frequented by international elites is the SNOWDONIA SLATE TRAIL taking place this weekend. The 89 Mile route follows the Slate Trail footpath with a total ascent of 5200 m. I could not find a list of registered runners but will be checking in for some welsh action during the weekend and report back for next weeks round up.
Endurance Life are kicking off their CTS series up on the coast of Northumberland. Same thing there, no official starting lists but I'm hoping to be back with official results for next Tuesday.
To finish off this weeks of sheroism on the trails here is some inspiration from my mentor Patty Peppermint